A prototype of a SpaceX next-generation rocket exploded on Friday (29) in a test carried out in Boca Chica, Texas, where the company usually experiments. The equipment became a huge fireball in a few seconds.
The flared prototype was the fourth of the Starship rocket, which SpaceX sees as next generation. Named SN4, the prototype erupted shortly after the test engines were ignited, leaving little equipment in sight and apparently causing damage to the test site, according to The Verge.
It is not yet clear whether there were injuries in the explosion and SpaceX did not take a position on the fact until the publication of this text.
The failure of the test occurs a day before the launch of the company's Falcon 9 rocket, with astronauts from Nasa (American space agency). It will be the first time that a private company rocket will take agency astronauts in history, in addition to being the first human launch in the United States in nine years.
Watch the video of the moment of the Starship rocket explosion:
– Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) May 29, 2020
The rocket that will be used this Saturday with NASA astronauts is totally different from the Starship. The Falcon 9 has more than 100 trips made and has already undergone tests of the type, including suffering problems like explosions even in 2016.
Even with no links between them, SpaceX owner Elon Musk had told an Aviation Week podcast earlier this week that because of the manned launch of Falcon 9 he would "slow down work on the Starship".
The Starship is a new giant rocket designed to send people to deeper areas of space, such as the Moon and Mars – this Saturday's trip from Falcon 9 is to the ISS (International Space Station).
NASA currently has the Artemis Project, which aims to place a human (including the first woman) on the Moon by 2024, as well as the first human on Mars around 2030. To do this, however, private companies need to build more powerful rockets than those who transit to the ISS.
SpaceX has built several test models for the Starship in Texas. Today's test involved starting the Raptor main engine of the latest prototype with the vehicle stuck, in a test called "static fire". This was the fifth test of its kind conducted in recent weeks.
SpaceX had previously lost three other rocket prototypes in pressurized tests that caused either fire or explosions. This fourth prototype, destroyed today, was the one that advanced the most tests.
If it had remained intact, SpaceX planned to fly the vehicle at low altitude in the coming days.